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Latest Featured Reports | Monday, November 24, 2014
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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


By Brad Friedman on 10/9/2011 11:17am PT  

This story is heart breaking, appalling, and just the first of many similar that we're likely to hear as new voter suppression laws, jammed through by Republican legislatures around the country, take effect before next year's 2012 Presidential election cycle.

Dorothy Cooper is a 96-year old African-American woman from Tennessee. Born before women even had the right to vote, she's now been voting religiously for some 70 years without a problem, even before the Voting Rights of 1965 during the the Jim Crow-era in the South. At least until now.

The newly-elected GOP legislature in her state has rammed through a disenfranchising polling-place Photo ID restriction law which has now made it incredibly difficult for Cooper to cast her legal vote, just like some 500,000 legal and largely Democratic-leaning voters in Tennessee.

As Rachel Maddow details below, Cooper has never had a driver's license. So, at 96 years old, she worked to make her way to the DMV in advance of next year's election and presented her birth certificate and all sorts of other identifying documents in order to receive the supposedly "free" state ID she is legally entitled to receive under the new law so that she can once again cast a vote next year.

However, as Cooper has gotten married since birth and her name has thus changed in the bargain, she was denied the ID, as she was unable to find and produce her marriage certificate to prove that she was who she said she was.

Welcome to your 2012 elections in the "world's greatest Democracy"...


* * *
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TONIGHT: Greg Palast on 'Uber Vultures'; Ernest Canning on The Uprising; & more Occupation as our week occupying the airwaves for Malloy concludes...
LIVE! 9p-Mid ET (6p-9p PT), Call-in#: 877-520-1150
By Brad Friedman on 10/7/2011 4:31pm PT  

[Now UPDATED with awesome audio archives at the bottom! Enjoy!]

It's our last night for a while occupying the public airwaves as guest-host of the nationally syndicated Mike Malloy Show.

Once again we'll be BradCasting LIVE 9pm-Mid ET (6p-9p PT), coast-to-coast and around the uprising globe from the studios of L.A.'s KTLK am1150 in beautiful downtown Burbank. Join us by tuning in, chatting in, Tweeting in and calling in! Our LIVE room will be up and rolling right here at The BRAD BLOG, as usual, while we are on the air. Please stop by and join the fun while you're listening! (The Chat Room will open at the bottom of this item a few minutes before airtime, see down below, just above "Comments" section.)

Scheduled tonight:

  • GREG PALAST, BBC investigative reporter and NYTimes best-selling author on his upcoming new book Vultures' Picnic: a Tale of Oil, Sex, Radiation and Investigative Reporting and the "Über-Vulture" billionaires who hope to pick our next President.
  • ERNEST A. CANNING, attorney and legal analyst for The BRAD BLOG on his thoughts on "Occupy Wall Street" and how it ain't no "Tea Party"...
  • PLUS! More calls from "Occupation Nation" (Hour 3 is once again wide open for calls from "Occupiers"!) and anything else that we didn't get to this week, or that you'd like to talk about at 877-520-1150 and with your tweets to @TheBradBlog!...

The Mike Malloy Show is nationally syndicated on air affiliates across the country and also on SiriusXM Ch. 127. You may also listen online to the free LIVE audio stream at affiliate GREEN 960 in San Francisco or at WhiteRose Society or via MikeMalloy.com.

* * *

POST-SHOW UPDATE: Thanks all for a great week of occupation and a great closing night show! It was a huge show, with an unexpected guest (the Republican Director of Venango County, PA's Board of Elections, see below for more) and a tremendous closing hour of Occupation Nation Calls! See below for the must-listen commercial-free audio archives (and the chat room archives as well.) Thanks again to Mike and Kathy for letting us occupy their airwaves! Until next time...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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TONIGHT: Malloy checks in from OccupyDC, Joshua Holland on OccupySF, Nanci Tobi on Hand-Counted Paper Ballots(!) & more!
LIVE! 9p-Mid ET (6p-9p PT), Call-in#: 877-520-1150
By Brad Friedman on 10/6/2011 4:16pm PT  

[Now UPDATED with audio archives below!]

The occupation of your public airwaves continues tonight as I guest-host the nationally syndicated Mike Malloy Show one again (and again tomorrow) while Mike is in D.C. rallying with the October2011.org / OccupyWashingtonDC.org demonstrations kicking off today.

Once again we'll be BradCasting LIVE 9pm-Mid ET (6p-9p PT), coast-to-coast and around the uprising globe from the studios of L.A.'s KTLK am1150 in beautiful downtown Burbank. Join us by tuning in, chatting in, Tweeting in and calling in! Our LIVE room will be up and rolling right here at The BRAD BLOG, as usual, while we are on the air. Please stop by and join the fun while you're listening! (The Chat Room will open at the bottom of this item a few minutes before airtime, see down below, just above "Comments" section.)

Scheduled tonight (so far):

The Mike Malloy Show is nationally syndicated on air affiliates across the country and also on SiriusXM Ch. 127. You may also listen online to the free LIVE audio stream at affiliate GREEN 960 in San Francisco or at WhiteRose Society or via MikeMalloy.com.

* * *

POST-SHOW UPDATE: The uprising continues. And it's all heard in audio archives below, with the commercials removed for your uprising pleasure! (The chat room archives are there too.) Enjoy!...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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TONIGHT: Malloy checks in from D.C. protests, Jesse LaGreca from 'Occupy Wall Street', Dr. Roger Johnston from Argonne National Labs & much more!
LIVE! 9p-Mid ET (6p-9p PT), Call-in#: 877-520-1150
By Brad Friedman on 10/5/2011 2:42pm PT  

[Now UPDATED with tonight's audio archives below!]

The revolution may not be televised...but it will be radio-active as we #OccupyYOURPublicAirwaves!

I'll be guest-hosting the nationally syndicated Mike Malloy Show tonight, tomorrow and Friday as Mike heads to D.C. to emcee the kick off of the October2011.org demonstration and we'll be

As ever, we'll be BradCasting LIVE 9pm-Mid ET (6p-9p PT), coast-to-coast and around the uprising globe from the studios of L.A.'s KTLK am1150 in beautiful downtown Burbank. Join us by tuning in, chatting in, Tweeting in and calling in! Our LIVE room will be up and rolling right here at The BRAD BLOG, as usual, while we are on the air. Please stop by and join the fun while you're listening! (The Chat Room will open at the bottom of this item a few minutes before airtime, see down below, just above "Comments" section.)

Scheduled tonight (so far):

The Mike Malloy Show is nationally syndicated on air affiliates across the country and also on SiriusXM Ch. 127. You may also listen online to the free LIVE audio stream at affiliate GREEN 960 in San Francisco or at WhiteRose Society or via MikeMalloy.com.

* * *

POST-SHOW UPDATE: The uprising begins. A helluva show tonight. You can check it all out below in the commercial-free audio archives (along with the chat room archives). Enjoy!...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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By Brad Friedman on 10/4/2011 10:45am PT  

Let's see. #OccupyWallStreet is an ever-growing group of American citizens actually doing something unprecedented, while facing impossible odds and putting their lives on the line in hopes of positively changing the course of the nation. NJ Gov. Chris Christie isn't.

No wonder he gets so much more national media attention.

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By Ernest A. Canning on 10/2/2011 7:47pm PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

Perhaps the only positive thing one can say about GOP voter suppression is that it is relentless.

In 2008 the ME Legislature killed a Republican-backed bill designed to prohibit out-of-state college students from voting in the communities in which their schools were located. The state's Democratic Attorney General Steven Rowe said at the time, that the proposal was unconstitutional under the 1979 ruling in Symm vs. United States, establishing the right of college students to treat their dorms as their residence for voting purposes.

This year, on July 25th, the clueless ME GOP Chairman Charlie Webster asked Maine's Republican Sec. of State Charles E. Summers, Jr. to investigate 206 out-of-state college students whom he believed committed "voter fraud" because they registered and voted in the Pine Tree State.

Summers, after a two month investigation, was forced to admit that every one of the students was lawfully registered to vote in ME; that there was no evidence that any one of them committed voter fraud.

But why let a little thing like the absence of evidence of any crime get in the way of dissuading college students from exercising their right to vote? That's exactly what Summers decided to do...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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By Brad Friedman on 10/2/2011 1:32pm PT  


"The best way to enhance freedom in other lands is to demonstrate here that our democratic system is worthy of emulation." - President Jimmy Carter
(Inaugural Address, 1/20/1977)

Oh, well. It was a nice idea at the time.

Nonetheless, happy 87th birthday (yesterday), Mr. President!

[Hat-tip @WestWingReport.]

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By Brad Friedman on 10/1/2011 1:13pm PT  

[Toon hat-tip to Philadelphia Inquirer's Matt Katz on the Twitters. Headline hat-tip to RS Gary, also on the Twitters.]

Related-ish at The BRAD BLOG, in case you missed it recently:
EXCLUSIVE: Christie's Secret Keynote at the Koch Brothers' Secret Seminar

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By Brad Friedman on 9/30/2011 5:26pm PT  

Now THIS is what democracy looks like. Some really great news via Ian Millhiser at ThinkProgress...

Earlier this year, Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) signed a sweeping bill intended to make it harder to vote in his states’ elections. Kasich’s anti-voter law drastically cuts back on early voting and erects new barriers for absentee and even for election day voters. Today, however, opponents of Kasich’s war on voting will submit over 300,000 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office — well over the 231,000 signatures necessary to suspend the law until it can be challenged in a referendum in November of 2012. If enough of the signatures are deemed valid, the practical effect of this petition will be that Kasich’s law will not be in effect during the 2012 presidential elections when Republicans hoped the law would weaken President Obama’s efforts to turn out early voters who support his reelection.

Ohio's new law would have overturned many of the improvements instituted in the Buckeye State by former Sec. of State Jennifer Brunner (D) after she took over from the corrupt J. Kenneth Blackwell (R) and his abhorrent, um, administration of the 2004 Presidential election there.

ThinkProgress' Tanya Somanader summarizes some of the new law's appalling restrictions on voting like this...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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LATE UPDATE: Now even Fox 'News' paying attention to Diebold hack!...
By Brad Friedman on 9/29/2011 5:02pm PT  

MSNBC's Rachel Maddow offered a nice hat-tip to us Tuesday night for our Secret Koch Tapes exclusive at Mother Jones on NJ Gov. Chris Christie (the complete segment, much longer than the clip below, is here)...


And RT's Thom Hartmann did similar for our Tuesday Salon exclusive on Argonne National Lab's Remote Control Diebold Hack (he covered it several times, with nice hat-tips by name, on both his radio and TV shows this week. The following was his latest and most extensive analysis, from last night)...

By the way, there's been quite a bit of new news coverage on that new e-voting hack over the past 24 hours, since I last discussed it. You can check out some of it here. And still, there has been absolutely no response to the news from Dominion Voting, the current owners of what had been Diebold Election Systems, Inc., or from ES&S, which also services many of Diebold's old contracts. The voting machine companies used to get right out in front of these things, to lie about them as soon as possible. Not this time, for some reason. Perhaps more on that later.

Also, our friend Jeanne "AKMuckraker" Devon of the great Alaska blog "Mudflats" offers an amusing take on the Diebold hack, after she noticed one-time "Tea Party" Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate Joe Miller (whose very appropriate concerns about Diebold voting systems in his state we vigorously covered during his election contest last November) is currently quoting and linking favorably to our Salon article from the front page of his website today.

Oh...and one more note! While we've been working on the above stories (and more to come) for quite a while, we haven't had time to do a proper fundraiser here for months and months and months. Hope to do one in the near future. But, until then, your financial support is always greatly appreciate and very much needed! Please consider leaving an online donation here, or using the snail-mail address in the light-blue box in our right sidebar if you can afford to do either. Thank you!!!

* * *

UPDATE 9/30/11: Well, waddaya know? Even Fox "News" suddenly gives a damn! "Researchers Hack Voting Machine for $26".

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Johnston says similar hack could work on paper-ballot op-scan systems as well as touch-screens...
By Brad Friedman on 9/28/2011 8:34pm PT  

This afternoon on my Pacifica Radio show on KPFK here in Los Angeles (and up and down the West Coast) I interviewed Dr. Roger Johnston of Argonne National Lab's Vulnerability Assessment Team on their $26 "Man-in-the-Middle" attack on a Diebold touch-screen voting system as I reported yesterday in my exclusive at Salon (and here at The BRAD BLOG.)

While yesterday's reports included information on the team's previous, similar-ish hack of a Sequoia touch-screen system, and the fact they feel they could do the same with most other e-voting systems, among the interesting new points raised during our discussion on KPFK today is that Johnston believes they could use a similar method to manipulate the vote count on a paper-ballot based optical-scan system as well!

So, in other words, the low-rent attack Argonne has demonstrated --- requiring no knowledge of the voting system software, $10 to $26 in off-the-shelf computer parts, and little more than an 8th grade computer lab education --- could also be implemented not just on touch-screen e-voting systems, with or without a so-called "paper trail," but also on the paper ballot op-scanners used to count the majority of votes that will be cast in the U.S. in next year's Presidential election.

(And if you're now wondering: "Well, what the hell should we be using to tabulate our elections?!" I'll refer you to this "Democracy's Gold Standard" special comment of mine, as taken from a recent Mike Malloy Show which I posted a few months ago.)

Here's my interview with Dr. Johnston today...

Download MP3 or listen online here [appx 28 mins]..

P.S. There's been a fair bit of follow-up coverage of my Salon article yesterday, here's a few of the better reports I've seen, at The Register, ComputerWorld, CNET and MSNBC.com.

Note: Of the media outlets listed above, only CNET got the ownership of Diebold voting equipment correct in their reports. Both The Register and ComputerWorld incorrectly report that ES&S now has ownership of what had been Diebold Election Systems, Inc. In fact, while ES&S, the world's largest e-voting company, did purchase the company (that some refer to as DESI, but I do not, for personal reasons) in late 2009, the DoJ ordered them to sell it off due to anti-trust concerns. It was then purchased by Canadian firm Dominion Voting, though ES&S was allowed to retain a fair number of the contracts from Diebold jurisdictions that preferred to stay with ES&S. So while Dominion officially owns what was Diebold's election division, ES&S still maintains and services many Diebold machines as well. Dominion also took over Sequoia --- and lied about it --- shortly thereafter.

* * *
Please support The BRAD BLOG's fiercely independent, award-winning coverage of your electoral system, as available from no other media outlet in the nation, with a donation to help us keep going (Snail mail, more options here). If you like, we'll send you some great, award-winning election integrity documentary films in return! Details right here...

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Hack team leader: 'Can do similar things on pretty much every e-voting machine'...
By Brad Friedman on 9/27/2011 10:17am PT  

[UPDATE 9/28/11: I interviewed Argonne National Lab's Roger Johnston on my Pacific Radio show on KPFK today. In the interview, Johnston concedes that it's not only touch-screen systems of the type described below which are vulnerable to this newly developed hack, but that paper-ballot based optical-scan systems can likely be manipulated by the same techniques. My interview with Johnson is now posted here. - BF]

* * *

The Vulnerability Assessment Team (VAT) at the U.S. Dept. of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois has managed to hack a Diebold Accuvote touch-screen voting machine in what I describe at my exclusive today at Salon as perhaps "one of the most disturbing e-voting machine hacks to date."

As noted by the computer scientists and security experts at Argonne's VAT, largely all that's needed to accomplish this hack is about $26 and an 8th grade science education.

"This is a national security issue," VAT team leader Dr. Roger Johnston told me, echoing what I've been reporting other computer scientists and security experts telling me for years. "It should really be handled by the Department of Homeland Security."

Johnston should know. While the VAT folks have been dabbling in the security (or lack thereof) of e-voting systems in their spare time of late, most of the work they do is related to issues like nuclear safeguards and non-proliferation.

What makes this hack so troubling --- and different from those which have come before it --- is that it doesn't require any actual changes to, or even knowledge of, the voting system software or its memory card programming. It's not a cyberattack. It's a "Man-in-the-middle" attack where a tiny, $10.50 piece of electronics is inserted into the system between the voter and the main circuit board of the voting system allowing for complete control over the touch-screen system and the entire voting process along with it.

Add an optional $15 radio frequency remote control device, and votes can be changed, without the knowledge of the voter, from up to half a mile away. Without the remote, the attack can be turned on and off at certain times, or by other triggers. The voter would have no idea that their votes have been changed after they've already approved them as "correct" on the various confirmation screens, and even on the so-called "paper-trail" (on e-voting machines which offer them --- though VAT has learned how to manipulate those as well, see photo at right.)

The inserted chip can later be removed after the election without there being any way to ever know that someone had completely manipulated the system. But since election officials rarely --- if ever --- examine the inside of their voting machines, it doesn't much matter, in truth.

"The level of sophistication it took to develop the circuit board" used in the attack "was that of basically an 8th grade science shop," says Argonne's John Warner. "Anybody with an electronics workbench could put this together."

The team, he says, had no knowledge of the voting machine's computer circuit diagram or owner's manual when they devised the attack. Moreover, VAT team leader Roger Johnston told me they believe they "can do similar things on pretty much every electronic voting machine." Indeed, in 2009, with little fanfare, they were able to carry out a similar manipulation of a Seqouia AVC Advantage e-voting system (as used across most of the state of New Jersey, for example). You can see that video demo here.

The team at Argonne has shared their demo video of the new Diebold Accuvote hack exclusively with The BRAD BLOG, as posted below. But please go check out the full details over at Salon (where we've embedded the video as well). The full details are chilling --- particularly as about 20% to 30% of U.S. voters are still set to use Diebold touch-screen systems, and others very similar to it, across the nation in the 2012 election cycle, no matter how many years The BRAD BLOG has been desperately trying to illustrate that these systems are simply antithetical to American democracy.

Among the states where voters will use these systems on Election Day in 2012, according to VerifiedVoting.org: Georgia, Maryland, Utah, Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Missouri, Texas and many more.

Almost five years ago to the day, I broke the story of Princeton's landmark Diebold Virus Hack in another exclusive for Salon. So while I'm delighted to break the news of this new type of hack over there today, it's somewhat frustrating that it's even necessary at this point, as we head into yet another Presidential election cycle having changed so little despite all that we've learned. Nonetheless, please go check out my story over there today.

* * *

Beyond that, the video demonstration itself from Argonne, of the remote hack of a Diebold Accuvote touch-screen system follows below...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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By Ernest A. Canning on 9/26/2011 12:02pm PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

Since taking power in statehouses across the nation in 2010, Republicans have been feverishly implementing new restrictions on democracy in advance of the 2012 Presidential election. A number of those laws, clearly --- and often deceptively --- designed to carve out blatant partisan advantage for the GOP next year, were examined during a recent hearing by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights. The video of the hearing on "New State Voting Laws: Barriers to the Ballot" can be viewed here.

This is the second of our two-part analysis of the hearing.

In Part 1, we covered the subcommittee's examination of new polling place photo ID restrictions designed to make it more difficult for lawfully registered (and disproportionately Democratic-leaning) voters to cast their ballots at the precincts on Election Day. That issue --- which included some devastating cross-examination of long-time GOP "voter fraud" front-man Hans Von Spakovsky by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) --- was the first of three categories, as defined by committee chair Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) of new state voting laws covered in the hearings. All of the new voter suppression laws have been recently rammed through Republican-majority statehouses across the country.

In this concluding piece, we will cover the two additional categories examined: laws erecting barriers to the ability of individuals and non-partisan, non-governmental organizations to offer convenient registration for new voters and laws imposing significant reductions on early voting periods. Both are likely to restrict the number of voters able to cast their lawful vote in 2012 and, again, each is likely to disproportionately affect Democratic-leaning voters.

Finally, We'll also touch upon the status of legal challenges to these new laws by democracy proponents and challenges to the Voting Rights Act itself by operatives on the Right. Moreover, it's impossible to look at any of these issues without drawing inferences about what the combination of new laws in all three categories means, particularly in light of the fact that the models for these new laws were drafted by the billionaire Koch brothers-funded, Paul Weyrich co-founded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)...

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By Brad Friedman on 9/26/2011 11:18am PT  

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By Brad Friedman on 9/23/2011 5:41pm PT  

There are two important late Friday announcements from the newly revived, post-Bush Voting Unit at U.S. Dept. of Justice's Civil Rights Division this afternoon. In both cases, they've raised serious concerns about discrimination by Republican Presidential front-runner Rick Perry's Texas against Hispanic and African-American voters.

Given the Lone Star State's history of discrimination against racial minorities, new laws and regulations which relate to elections and voting must be pre-cleared by the Dept. of Justice before they can be put into effect, as per Section 5 of the federal Voting Rights Act.

In one finding, the DoJ sees purposeful discrimination against minorities in the state's redistricting plans [PDF] for apportioning both new statehouse districts, as well as four new U.S. House seats being added in the wake of the 2010 census. The new seats are being added due to an increase in the TX population, thanks in no small part, ironically enough, to huge growth in the state's Hispanic population. The DoJ finds the proposed statehouse plan violates Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, stating that it "was adopted, at least in part, for the purpose of diminishing the ability of citizens of the United States, on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group, to elect their preferred candidates of choice to the Texas House of Representatives."

The TX plan for the U.S. House didn't fare much better (see below), with similar findings that minorities are likely to see a "retrogressive effect" in their ability "to elect their preferred candidates of choice to the United States House of Representatives" under Perry's approved scheme.

Moreover, in a letter that echoes questions recently sent by the DoJ to the state of South Carolina about their new polling place Photo ID restrictions, as The BRAD BLOG detailed earlier this month, the DoJ has a series of questions concerning Texas' new, very similar restrictions. As the law mirrors the one in South Carolina --- and in many of the other states where the GOP has been able to ram through similar voter suppression bills over the past year --- many of the questions from the DoJ to TX also ask about the their plans for notification about the law, and issuance of free IDs to the more than 600,000 otherwise-legally qualified voters who don't currently own state-issued ID that would meet the strict new requirements to cast a vote at the polls on Election Day.

In TX, the DoJ voting unit is curious about how many of those residents who don't have such IDs also happen to have Spanish surnames...

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